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October 2013 Volume 1, Issue 2

Research Bites

Leading academic appointed onto Royal Society UK-Africa research consortium


UNIZULU Professor of Nanotechnology has been appointed to lead the SA team that will participate in establishing a UK-Africa research consortium through the Royal Society –DFID Africa Capacity Building Initiative.

The Royal Society recently announced the appointment of Prof Neerish Revaprasadu at the helm of the SA-UNIZULU team that will contribute to the UK-Africa consortium. Prof Revaprasadu said the programme is aimed at scientists who want to develop collaborative research consortia between scientists in sub-Saharan Africa and UK research institutions. It will focus on research capacity strengthening through the development of sustainable research networks and skills transfer; increase the number of young researchers through PhD scholarships, shared supervision and contribution evaluation to supporting African higher education institutions. …………...Continued on page 2

Inside this issue UNICEF Grants ............................ 2 IYGU Appointment...................... 3 Erasmus Mundus Update............ 3 NRF Rated Researchers............... 4 Waste Water Management ........ 5 UNIZULU’s joint WRC project...... 6 Sinomonde ................................. 7 Ambitious Benchmarks…….......... 8 Intellectual Property & Innovation .................................. 8 New Developments .................... 9 Did You Know ............................. 10 Forthcoming Events .................... 10

UZ Nanotechnology Research Group who will be participating in the Royal Society Programme

He said the SA-UNIZULU teams’ contribution will include capabilities in developed chemical synthetic route to nanomaterials for solar applications, work on Au/Semiconductor core shell materials, bismuth, tin and antimony based nanoparticles and bi-metallic systems. The team has also been actively involved in up scaling synthesis of cadmium telluride, lead sulfide and zinc telluride systems and is experienced in electron microscopic analysis and optical measurements. Prof Revaprasadu said: “The programme is funded by the UK’s Department for International Development. As UNIZULU’s Professor of Nanotechnology and Chair of South African Research Chairs Initiative (SARChI), this is a great opportunity to broaden the institution’s reach, research capacity and development of novel systems and innovations whilst establishing international and intercontinental partnerships and collaborations. The research consortium includes researchers and experts from across fields, including Ghana, Cameroon and the UK. Institutional partners include University of Manchester, UNIZULU, KNUST and University of Yaoundé. The SAUNIZULU team includes Dr Bongumusa Dladla, Dr Masood Akhtar, Dr Sipho Mavundla, Sixberth Mlowe, Nhlakanipho Mntungwa, Welcome Zibane, Siphephelo Ncanana and Rekha Dunpall”. He said the consortium has been awarded a networking grant of £25000 from the Royal Society which will go towards the first project ‘Building Excellence in Materials Chemistry in Sub-Saharan Africa’. The consortium will meet to write a proposal for the award of £1.25 million which will be dispersed over a period of 5years. Group leaders are expected to meet in Dhakar, Senegal from 26-29 October for further discussion. A follow up meeting will then be held by UK team leader, Prof Paul O’Brien at University of Manchester from 10-12 January 2014. The final proposal will be submitted in mid-2014 and the outcome will be known in the latter half of the year.

UNICEF grants funding to local researcher


he United Nation’s Women and its Children’s Fund, UNICEF has awarded UNIZULU researcher, Dr Chris Isike R303 000 to further research on females in KwaZuluNatal.

Acting Head, Department of Political Science and Public Administration, Dr Isike’s study aims to provide a detailed profile and situation analysis of young women and girls in the province to inform evidence-based planning and programming. The study will consolidate existing information from the 2011 KZN Provincial Gender Profile and 2012 Provincial Gender Audit Reports to provide a comprehensive status report. Dr Isike said: “The study objectives are focused on providing a profile of young women and girls in KwaZulu-Natal, determine and understand the factors that define the observed social, economic and political profile and recommend appropriate policy and programmatic interventions to improve the quality of life of young women and girls in the province. The study is expected to be completed in November 2013.”

Dr Chris Isike

Dr Isike’s interest in social development of women is not limited to the province. He recently returned from a visit to Ethiopia, with the KZN government delegation, to explore its social transformation model in ending early childhood and forced marriages. Dr Isike was selected by the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) to participate in the study, which will look at reporting and recommending best practices for South Africa. The delegation travelled from 5 - 11 August through the Amhara Region, a province noted for the highest incidence of early/forced marriages in Ethiopia. Dr Isike said the delegation returned with useful lessons including the use of community conversations and school clubs as tools to facilitate attitude change. These have helped curb harmful traditional practices within Ethiopia’s highly populated region. Dr Isike will continue to work with UNFPA, the Office of the Premier and Department of Social Development in implementing practical ways of ending the practice of Ukuthwala, Zulu forced marriage in parts of KZN.


IYGU Appointment


he Research and Innovation Office would like to congratulate Department of Recreation and Tourism’s Emeritus Professor Lindisizwe Magi on his appointment onto the United Nations International Year of Global Understanding (IYGU) Steering Committee. He not only represents UNIZULU, but is a representative of the African continent and human geography. The committee has made headways since its establishment and is sponsored by ICSU and ISSC. IYGU has applied for UNESCO support and is hopeful to have the application considered by the UN General Assembly, later this year. As a member of the IYGU Steering Committee, Prof Magi’s responsibilities will include the formulation and composition of the project’s Scientific, Outreach, and Policy Panels. In addition, his engagement would include the representation of African geography on the Steering Committee and the enhancement of the visibility of African geography on a global scale during the application process and - if successful - during the year of preparation for the IYGU in 2015, the International Year in 2016 and the year of harvest and evaluation in 2017.

Prof Lindisizwe Magi



NIZULU Recreation and Tourism lecturer, Tshabalala is currently on a 34 month scholarship programme in Granada whilst completing her doctorate thesis. She visited UNIZULU during August and September to share her experiences. Tshabalala is currently working on establishing collaborate partnerships with the University. Her research work has generated increasing interest and has set the foundation for future development. During September 2013-August 2014, she will be engage in a team project as part of her assessment. She now writes, reads and speaks Spanish and holds a Masters in Recreation and Tourism, Bachelor Degree in Pedagogics, BA Honours Degree and a Junior Secondary Teacher’s Certificate.



hleko embarked on his research during the summer break, after it was granted approval by his programme coordinator. He has made progress after having found a research supervisor. Nhleko’s enthusiasm is inspired by the opportunity to network with great individuals, from across the world, who continue to infuse positivity into his life.


Rated Researchers

Department of Mathematical Science: Faculty of Science & Agriculture

P Prof Aroon Beesham

rof Beesham joined UNIZULU in 1990 as Professor of Applied Mathematics. His research area is general relativity and cosmology. Apart from his scientific interests, his main interest is in music and he plays the guitar. He explains: “Einstein’s general relativity is a theory of gravitation. If one studies a typical star like the sun, one can ask what will happen to the sun after it has exhausted all its nuclear fuel. Depending upon its mass, the star collapses into a small compact object, such as a white dwarf or neutron star. However, according to general relativity, if the star is very massive, then it forms a so-called singularity, with extreme temperatures, pressures, etc. This singularity can be either a black hole or a naked singularity, and this is one topic that I am working in. The other main topic is cosmology, the large-scale structure and evolution of the universe. Currently, more than 95% of the matter content of the universe is believed to be in some form of dark matter or dark energy, which cannot be detected directly, but by indirect means, such as the motion of bodies. We are trying to understand the nature of this unknown form of matter, and its effect on the universe, including tracing back to the

origins of the universe.�

Department of Agriculture: Faculty of Science & Agriculture


rof Scogings holds a MSc in Wildlife Management from Pretoria University and a PhD in Pasture Science from University of Fort Hare. He is an advisory editor of African Journal of Range and Forage Science. His former experience includes Senior Lecturer and Researcher (Rangelands) at University of Fort Hare, Grassland Society of Southern Africa Council member and editor of African Journal of Range and Forage Science. Prof Scogings is a published researcher, his academic activities foster agriculture and rural development, pasture ecology and management locally and internationally. His research is focused on the complex interactions between plants and herbivores in extensive (rangeland) systems, principally between trees and mammalian herbivores in African savannas. He also investigates plant-herbivore interaction and recognises strong linkages between ecological and agricultural sciences. The main pillars of his research programme are the effects of biotic and abiotic factors on chemical and physical traits of plants used by herbivores, foraging efficiency, diet selection and performance of herbivores in relation to chemical and physical traits of plants.


Prof Peter Scogings

Department of English: Faculty of Arts


rof Hooper’s appointment to the Faculty of Arts was in 1985, she has served as Assistant Vice-Rector for three years and as interim Faculty Dean in 2012. Her research focuses on the ethics of reading, how reading is affected by the dynamics of difference and distance between writers and readers. Particularly, ‘wrong readers’, for whom texts may not originally have been intended and how this relationship is reflected in texts, objective features of language such as pronouns, negatives, modals and in more impressionistic aspects such as the use of allusion, the narration of torture, renditions of contact and clash between oral and literate worlds and the playing out of textual surprise. She is currently exploring the dimensions of embodiment and spatialisation in narrative. Her doctorate focused on silence in Southern African fiction and has published on various Southern African writers, including Mofolo, Plaatje, Paton, Head, Lessing, Jacobson, Rooke, Coetzee and extensively on the work of Joseph Conrad. Currently on sabbatical, Prof Hooper spends time writing on the stories of Pauline Smith.

Prof Myrtle Hooper

Winning the battle in wastewater management


epartment of Biochemistry and Microbiology lecturer, Mathews Mthembu was recently awarded NRF funding towards his study on the use of constructed wetlands in wastewater treatment. Mthembu is a doctoral student at Durban University of Technology (DUT), his research project has provided the framework for the qualification of two honours degree students and research training to four others. He said: “South Africa is a fast developing and like many, it has a huge problem of wastewater management. This goes further to impact the availability of portable water, hence making water a scarce resource. Ill-health and environmental deterioration can be traced to improper sanitation and wastewater management. There are current technologies used for wastewater treatment, however, costs involved, need for skilled labour as well as increased environmental destruction demands better alternative technologies that will provide solutions to these problems.”

…………...Continued on page 6

Wetland system – designed and construted by Water Research Commission at Kingsburgh in Manzimtoti

Wetland team from left to right: Londiwe Khumalo, Mathews Mthembu (project leader), Nomandla Nxusa (Recipient of student assistantship from Thuthuka through the project), Sfiso Gumbi and Phindile Mabaso (absent from the photo)


He said UNIZULU is the only participating institution in the study that is without a wetland constructed on site, leaving students to travel either to Durban or Pretoria for field work. Constructed wetlands have demonstrated to be a better solution in terms of wastewater treatment efficiency. It is cheap as well as environmental friendly. Mthembu’s projects draws on the use of wetlands constructed on site at DUT, Universities of Pretoria and Stellenbosch. Research conducted at these sites will investigate the effect of geographical location to treatment efficiency. Mthembu said: “If the findings are worth it, I will be happy to see wetlands used instead of the current conventional system in wastewater treatment. Interim findings indicate that treatment using wetlands do meet regulatory standards. The overall findings will be submitted to Water Research Commission for decision and we hope to fight a winning battle.”

UNIZULU embarks on joint WRC project


he Department of Hydrology held a workshop covering hydrology, ecology and water chemistry on 13 August. The two hour session saw the participation of students and presentation of new research developments.

Department of Hydrology’s Professor Emeritus Bruce Kelbe provided feedback on the latest Water Research Commission project which is a joint initiative with Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University within northern KZN’s Sodwana region. Prof Kelbe said the project aims to investigate the linkages between the hydrodynamic and biological drivers of the Lake Mgobezeleni and Lake Shazibe Catchments and is linked to the groundwater monitoring network that Department of Water Affairs installed last year. These catchments were specifically chosen because they are small enough to conduct very intensive research on linkages between the hydrology, ecology and estuarine environments that are impacted by significant changes in land use.

Flow gauging by Hydrology Honours students at Sodwana

Hydrocensus by Hydrology Honours students at Sodwana


He said: “We believe the site is a microcosm of the large hydrological systems in the Zululand Coastal region such as St Lucia where it is difficult to conduct integrated research. We are particularly keen that the project forms a nucleus of work on which other collaborative studies can build. As part of our strategy we plan to conduct several workshops to inform the community and to encourage other scientist to collaborate with us in developing an understanding of the various coastal systems and their linkages.”

COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT Sinomonde – patience pays off!


he Department of Science and Technology funded local co-operative, Sinomonde and Community-University Partnership Programme (CUPP) to deliver a joint presentation at the CU Expo Engaging Shared Worlds in July at Newfoundland, Canada. The paper presented by Sinomonde Chairperson, Lulama Cele and CUPP Team Leader, Dr John Boughey was titled, CUPP: Being ProActive. The biennial Canadian-led international conference organised by communities, higher education institutions, government and non-profit organizations showcased best practices in community-university partnerships worldwide. The co-operative was named after the Xhosa word, meaning ‘we have patience’ and is an all-woman vegetable farming initiative located in Mbonambi. CUPP selected Sinomonde as a vermiculture implementation unit, currently the co-operative produces cabbages for the community and is a Massmart supplier. As part of his doctoral research, Dr Boughey has developed a hybrid model of Participatory Action Research and Project Management, called ProAct, which he has piloted Sinomonde. The model illustrates the practical application in the work of Sinomonde and has received significant interest from colleagues involved in the field of Knowledge Mobilisation.

CUPP Team Leader, Dr John Boughey together with Sinomonde Chairperson, Lulu Cele and co-presenters in their session at the CU Expo, Shanti Fernando from University-Community Link Unit at University of Ontario Institute of Technology with Ben Earle from Community Development Council of Durham, Newfoundland.

Dr Boughey said: “The model is based on the twin needs to adopt an action research-based approach which in the interests of equal partnerships eschews the traditional privileging of academic over indigenous knowledge, but which also recognises that even open-ended exploratory initiatives need to unfold within the constraints imposed by time and money, hence the addition of specific project management tools.”

Sinomonde Co-operative, fostering community development through patience and hard work .


POSTGRADUATE NEWS Ambitious benchmarks set to increase postgraduate output


n an attempt to increase UNIZULU’s postgraduate numbers, Management has established masters and doctoral new benchmarks leading up to 2019. The revised strategy is bent on achieving 60 masters students in 2014, with an increase of 5 students per year and a benchmark of 95 students in 2019. The target for doctoral students in 2014 is 25 with a gradual increase up to 50 students in 2019, an ambitious target to achieve in six years that will require added intervention to boost student output. The postgraduate strategy stemmed from analysis of the graduation rates from 2006-2012 which reflect that UNIZULU’s postgraduate output has overall increased slightly, however the University saw a decline in numbers from 2007-2008 with no major change from 2007 -2013. The revised strategy will look at curbing dropout numbers, reducing the number of year’s students spend on achieving their postgraduate qualification and increasing the quality of supervision. Senior Administrator: Postgraduate Studies, Patience Dube said the production of doctoral graduates is a national problem. Various studies show that South Africa is not producing enough doctoral graduates to sustain the country’s future development. According to the 2010 study done by the Academy of Science for Africa, rapid growth in PhD qualifications is unlikely in the near future. “Nonetheless, the institution is in a position to contribute positively to this need, but we will have to improve the 3% yearly increase at doctoral level of 3%. Apart from the need to improve throughput rates, we must address the quality of our supervision. Supervisors and students are urged to participate in supervision and other training sessions that are being offered, individuals also need to assess their contributions towards enriching the postgraduate experience at UNIZULU.”

Intellectual Property & Innovation INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY In keeping with the Intellectual Property (IP) Act 58 of 2008, UNIZULU appointed Mthokozisi Hlengwa to the IP Office. The act requires all publicly funded institutions particularly within higher education to establish an IP and Technology Transfer Office. Hlengwa will be able to assist the academic community with innovation, intellectual property and technology related concerns.. As part of its academic engagement, the Research Office, held its first IP workshop from 28-29 May which was facilitated by Technology Innovation Agency’s Dikeledi Mokwena. The workshop focused on training academics on procedures that must be followed to protect and commercialize IP.

TIA ALLOCATES R23 MILLION TO HIGHER EDUCATION The Technology Innovation Agency (TIA) has allocated R23 million towards Institutions of Higher Learning and R1 million per institution to foster innovation and technology transfer. UNIZULU is therefore encouraging all innovative thinkers to come up with projects that can either produce a patent or can be turned into a commercial product that will benefit surrounding communities and the institution. Visit the Research Office if you have a potential award winning idea!


New developments: Centre’s of Excellence


NIZULU recently partnered with University of Fort Hare in response to a national call for competitive bids towards the establishment of five Centre’s of Excellence. UNIZULU’s collaborative proposal “Sustainable Livelihoods and Natural Management Resources” was unsuccessful; however the research framework will be used to foster further development within this niche area at the University. On a brighter note, the listed UNIZULU collaborative bids have been promoted for consideration. The assessment will also evaluate the extent to which partner institutions will participate in the research. We are positive, that with UNIZULU providing a supporting role in each of the proposals the University can make a significant contribution to further research in the respective fields. University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN) and University of the Free State: Development Livelihoods and Health (HIV Aids and TB) University of Cape Town: Cosmology and Gravity UKZN: Food Security

Self-plagiarism and multiple outputs


NIZULU Plagiarism Policy notes that “where a researcher makes use of his or her own previously-published work, without proper reference to the original work, is called self-plagiarism.” Clause 12.2 of UNIZULU’s Ethics Policy emphasis the following principles:

Publication of multiple outputs based on the same set(s) or subset(s) of data by the same author could be classified as selfplagiarism and would accordingly be unacceptable; except where there is full cross-referencing within the outputs (for example, in a series of closely-related work, or where a complete work grew out of a preliminary publication such as a thesis or dissertation, or a conference paper, and this is fully acknowledged). An author who submits substantially similar work to more than one publisher must disclose this to the publishers at the time of submission and point out the extent of the overlap. Although not advisable, it is not unethical to submit a previously-delivered conference paper to a journal for publication, since it is accepted academic practice that conference papers constitute work in progress aimed at soliciting comments from one peers in order to clarify and refine issues before a final product is submitted for publication. However, it would be unacceptable to submit a paper that was published in the conference proceedings to another publisher without full disclosure of the prior publication. It is similarly not unethical to deliver a previously-delivered conference paper at another conference, where there is evidence that input received at the previous conference has been incorporated into the subsequently-delivered paper. The document should however indicate that the paper had been delivered elsewhere and has been revised. Where substantially the same paper, without significant revision, were to be delivered more than once a real danger of unethical practices in the form of financial “double dipping” and “CV padding” arises. Such practices should preferably be avoided and are justified only if input is sought from a target audience that is substantially different from the initial audience to avoid mere lipservice being paid to the accepted rationale for duplicate presentations. Where such repeat presentations do occur, steps should be taken to ensure that funding parties are aware of the situation, that any document states clearly that it is a repeat presentation and that CVs and/or similar documents clearly note the repetition and do not represent that different papers have been delivered.


Research Office News We would like to introduce a new staff member who joined the Research Office on 19 August 2013. Zinhle Ntuli will provide key support for the Research Office’s training programmes for researchers and postgraduate students and will co-ordinate the administrative processes for the training programmes. We are excited to have her onboard and looking forward to good working relationships as a team to assist the research community better. Please join us in extending a heartfelt welcome to her. Her contact details are: Email Tel: 035 902 6244



Ms Zinhle Ntuli

Administrator, Training & Development

Accolades / Awards Congratulations to the following people who received research awards NRF AWARDS Prof DP Cyrus – Incentive Funding for Rated Researchers Prof SD Edwards – Incentive Funding for Rated Researchers Dr SE Mavundla – Postdoctoral Fellowships Dr SS Ntshangase – Joint Institute for Nuclear Research Programme Prof N Revaprasadu – Tanzania/SA Research Cooperation Programme Prof PF Scogings – Incentive Funding for Rated Researchers

SPSS Package Training 24-25 October 2013 Research Writer’s Retreat Consultations 23-25 October 2013 Research Awards Ceremony 14 November 2013 Post-graduate Supervision Workshop 7-8 November 2013

Dr J Simonis – Strategic Knowledge Fields Dr A Shonhai – Incentive Funding for Rated Researchers


If you would like to publicize your research efforts in our next issue of Research Bites, please contact Nomathemba Shoba at the Research Office for more information. AYANDA MKHIZE AT EX 6273

Editorial Committee Editor: Ms Daniela Viljoen Copy Editor: Ms Karishma Ganpath Layout & Design: Dr Kevin Naidoo Contributing members: Prof Rob Midgley, Ms Noma Shoba, Mr Mthoko Hlengwa, Mrs Patience Dube, Prof Bruce Kelbe, Dr Chris Isike, Dr John Boughey, Prof Neerish Revaprasadu, Prof Lindisizwe Magi, Mr Mathews Mthembu.

Research Bites newsletter October 2013  

The Research Bites newsletter showcases current research and related activities that are conducted at the University of Zululand.

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